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Islamic World News ( 10 Dec 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Muslims Will Respect SC Order, But Triple Talaq May Continue: JUH Leader and Senior Islamic Theologian












Photo: A man holds a banner during a rally organised by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) in support of the Muslim Personal Law in on November 20, 2016. (REUTERS)

 

Hezbollah Deputy: Takfiris after Deviating Muslims from Original Islam

Over 300 ISIL Terrorists Killed in Russian-Syrian Joint Operation in Ancient Palmyra

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India

Muslims Will Respect SC Order, But Triple Talaq May Continue: JUH Leader and Senior Islamic Theologian

India Plans To Make Most of Its Share of Water under Indus Pact with Pakistan

India abstains from voting on UNGA resolution on Syria

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Mideast

Hezbollah Deputy: Takfiris after Deviating Muslims from Original Islam

Turkish Army Says Hits Islamic State Targets in Syria, Killing 12 Militants

Death toll from Istanbul twin bombings climbs to 38, minister says

At least 272 killed in ISIL, PKK terror attacks in Turkey in 2016

Turkey declares day of mourning after twin bombings in Istanbul

Massive Ground Force Drills Starts in Southeastern Iran

World mourns after twin bombing in Istanbul

Rally against terror to be held in Istanbul

Feds raid businessmen linked to imam blamed for Turkey coup

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Arab World

Over 300 ISIL Terrorists Killed in Russian-Syrian Joint Operation in Ancient Palmyra

4,000 ISIS fighters regroup, make new attempt to capture Palmyra, Syria – Reconciliation Centre

Syria: Gov't Forces Win Back More Neighbourhoods in Aleppo City

Blast Hits near Christian Cathedral in Cairo, 25 Killed, 35 Wounded – Egyptian State TV

IS suicide bomber kills 35 Yemen soldiers

More than 10,000 flee rebel-held Aleppo since midnight: Monitor

Yemeni Missiles Hit Hard Pro-Saudi Mercenaries in Al-Jawf, Shabwah Provinces

Commander Warns of Saudi-US Coalition's Plot to Control Yemen's Oil-Rich Regions

Mosul: Hashd Al-Shaabi Ends 5th Phase of Operation, Iraq's Joint Military Forces Capture 31 Districts

Syrian Army Forwards Hundreds of Fresh Forces to Aleppo City

Islamic State retakes Palmyra after Syria army withdrawal

Syrian Army Readying to Launch Fresh Operation to Liberate Remaining Districts of Aleppo

Syrian Army backed by Russian Air Force thwarts ISIS attack on Palmyra

Over 78,000 civilians have escaped Aleppo since start of Syrian forces’ operation – Russia

‘If Russia & Saudi Arabia lead, rest will follow’: Saudi energy minister on historic oil deal

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Africa

Muslim Brotherhood Denies Link to Egypt Militant Group

Suicide bombings in Nigeria: Toll rises to 57

Somalia suicide truck bombing kills more than 20

Nigerian church collapse: Toll rises to 160, 'could rise further'

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Pakistan

14 MQM-London Workers Sent On Judicial Remand

Pakistan lost opportunities given by President Ghani: Hina Rabbani Khar

Pakistani Shia officer martyred in terrorist attack in Abbottabad

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South Asia

Air and Ground Raids Underway In Uruzgan, 18 Taliban Militants Killed

Second largest Buddha’s reconstruction to kick off in Bamyan

Ghani calls on militant groups to join intra-Afghan talks for reconciliation

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Southeast Asia

Indonesia, India Must Enhance Anti-Terror Cooperation, Says Indonesian President

At least 43,000 homeless after Aceh quake in Indonesia

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Europe

France Arrests New Suspect in Foiled Terror Plot

France extends state of emergency as ‘terrorist threat’ remains at high level

Massive fire guts Australian Islamic centre

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North America

US Defence Secretary Carter in Iraq for Talks on Mosul

Looking Back at Manhattan's Street Art Mecca, 10 Years Later

U.S. to Nigeria's Buhari: Prosecute who involved in unlawful killing of civilians, obey court order to free El-Zakzaky

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/muslims-will-respect-sc-order,-but-triple-talaq-may-continue--juh-leader-and-senior-islamic-theologian/d/109346

 

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Muslims Will Respect SC Order, But Triple Talaq May Continue: JUH Leader And Senior Islamic Theologian

December 11, 2016

New Delhi: Muslims in India will respect the Supreme Court verdict on triple talaq but quashing of the divorce law will not stop the community from adhering to the Muslim Personal Law, including triple talaq, Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind (JUH) leader and senior Islamic theologian Maulana Arshad Madani has said.

“People are free to seek remedial measures from the court. Similarly, others are equally free to be guided by the Personal Law within their household and in their personal lives,” said Madani, reacting to the recent observations of the Allahabad High Court, which termed the practice as “unconstitutional” and “against the spirit of the Holy Quran.” The issue is pending in the Supreme Court, where the NDA government has filed an affidavit opposing the practice.

 “The Islamic law and Sharia have to be interpreted not only on the basis of Quranic verses; one also has to take into account the Hadith (a collection of the traditions based on the sayings of Prophet Mohammad),” said Madani.

Maulana Arshad Madani's father, Mulana Syed Hussain Madani, was a Deobandi Ulema and an Islamic theologian of international repute who taught Hadith at Medina.

During the last phase of the Independence movement, Madani Senior was a staunch critic of Muhammad Ali Jinnah's ‘two-nation’ theory and countered it with his concept of Muttahida Qaumiyat or Universal Citizenship.

ALSO READ: Triple Talaq Unconstitutional, Violates Muslim Women's Rights: Allahabad HC

JuH, at its annual convention in Ajmer last month, had also passed a resolution against any government interference in Muslim Personal Law while seeking to bring about changes within to stop any misuse of triple talaq.

Further clarifying his position on Personal Law, Madani drew an analogy with the offering of Namaz as per Islamic law. "If the law of a land prohibits me from offering Namaz, I will still do it in my home. If the law decides to punish me for doing that, then so be it,” said Madani, reiterating that triple talaq was neither considered a good practice nor encouraged in Islam.

Madani also hit out at Narendra Modi, alleging that the Prime Minister has remained silent on many issues concerning the minorities but chose to speak on this particular matter. "There are certain rights which were given to the minorities at the time of Independence. And those must be preserved," said Madani.

news18.com/news/india/muslims-will-respec-sc-order-but-triple-talaq-may-continue-madani-1321774.html

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Hezbollah deputy: Takfiris after deviating Muslims from original Islam

December 11, 2016 - 10:20 AM

News Code : 797404Source : Taqrib News

Sheikh Naim Qassem, the Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah, has met with a delegation from Lebanon’s Reform and Unity Movement, headed by the president of the movement, Sheikh Maher Abdul-Razzaq.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Sheikh Naim Qassem, the Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah, has met with a delegation from Lebanon’s Reform and Unity Movement, headed by the president of the movement, Sheikh Maher Abdul-Razzaq.

Sheikh Qassem said, "the coming days will determine that the brave stances of the scholars in support of the Resistance Axis against the Takfiri terrorist phenomenon are completely correct and wise because the Takfiris have plotted against Muslims and seek to deviate them from original Islam and to make them forget the violation of Palestinian rights."

"Due to the actions of the Resistance Axis, Daesh is in the process of retreating from different areas and this is considered a victory for the Resistance Axis, strengthens Islamic unity and turns the focus to the principle enemy of Islam – the Zionist regime and its allies," he underlined.

Sheikh Qassem went on to add, "Hezbollah is steadfast alongside its coalition allies and added that there is no problem or action which can distance Hezbollah from it allies although the enemies seek to harm this coalition by spreading and enlarging lies."

The senior Hezbollah member noted, “We have faith in their options and with patience and perseverance, we will make local and regional achievements.”

en.abna24.com/service/middle-east-west-asia/archive/2016/12/11/797404/story.html

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Over 300 ISIL Terrorists Killed in Russian-Syrian Joint Operation in Ancient Palmyra

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Sunday that Syrian Army soldiers with aerial support of Russian fighter jets fended off and ISIL attack near Palmyra last night, killing over 300 terrorists.

"During the (Saturday) night, Syrian government forces, actively supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces, repelled all attacks by (ISIL) terrorists on (government positions in) Palmyra. The invading side actively used car bombs, armor and rocket artillery systems," the ministry's statement read.

According to Moscow, the Russian warplanes conducted 64 airstrikes on the militants' positions and reserves, while eleven battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, 31 cars with heavy machineguns were destroyed, and over 300 militants were killed.

Reports said earlier today that the army troops with the back up of the Russian and Syrian fighter jets managed to drive ISIL out of the neighborhoods they lost to the terrorists on Saturday, and imposed full control over the historical city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in Eastern Homs.

The army soldiers, backed up by the Russian and Syrian warplanes, pushed ISIL terrorists back from neighborhoods near Palmyra's entrance, inflicting major casualties on the militants.

ISIL carried out one more large-scale attack on government positions at the Eastern entrance of Palmyra on Saturday night. They took control of the strategic height of al-Tar in the Northern side of Palmyra and the village of al-Ameriyeh Northwest of the city. They further laid siege on the city.

As the ISIL terrorists were entering the Eastern districts of Palmyra, the army troops started to evacuate civilians from the city and transfer them to the T4 region and airport, but after arrival of reinforcements, the government forces carried out crushing attacks on the terrorists and retook some of the lost neighborhoods with the back of the Russian and Syrian aircraft.

The army men, fresh forces and the Syrian and Russian fighter jets inflicted major losses on the militants and took back the village of al-Ameriyeh and the Eastern neighborhoods of Palmyra.

The government forces further targeted ISIL's movements and gatherings in the wheat silos and al-Tar height, inflicting major losses on them and pushing them back from most of these two regions.

Massdar news reported that the Russian Special Forces with the back up of the Russian fighter jets and choppers played a crucial role in recapturing lost region in the Palmyra operation.

A field source said that the Syrian government forces are fortifying their position in the city to prevent any advance of the ISIL.

The sources added that the Takfiri terrorists try to maintain their position in Palmyra's outskirt, but the Russian and Syrian warplanes are targeting them continuously.

The source also said that an ISIL convoy of vehicles carrying a number of terrorists that had left al-Sukhnah region for Palmyra was destroyed in the air raids.

A military source also told RIA Novosti that the Syrian army managed to repel ISIL attack on Palmyra, regaining full control over the embattled city.

“Let me repeat that Palmyra is under the control of the Syrian army troops," the source said, adding that ISIL terrorists are carrying out intense attacks, but they have been repulsed.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950921000682

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India

Muslims Will Respect SC Order, But Triple Talaq May Continue: JUH Leader And Senior Islamic Theologian

December 11, 2016

New Delhi: Muslims in India will respect the Supreme Court verdict on triple talaq but quashing of the divorce law will not stop the community from adhering to the Muslim Personal Law, including triple talaq, Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind (JUH) leader and senior Islamic theologian Maulana Arshad Madani has said.

“People are free to seek remedial measures from the court. Similarly, others are equally free to be guided by the Personal Law within their household and in their personal lives,” said Madani, reacting to the recent observations of the Allahabad High Court, which termed the practice as “unconstitutional” and “against the spirit of the Holy Quran.” The issue is pending in the Supreme Court, where the NDA government has filed an affidavit opposing the practice.

ALSO READ: Text Messages to Local Cops: How These Muslim Women Were Divorced

“The Islamic law and Sharia have to be interpreted not only on the basis of Quranic verses; one also has to take into account the Hadith (a collection of the traditions based on the sayings of Prophet Mohammad),” said Madani.

Maulana Arshad Madani's father, Mulana Syed Hussain Madani, was a Deobandi Ulema and an Islamic theologian of international repute who taught Hadith at Medina.

During the last phase of the Independence movement, Madani Senior was a staunch critic of Muhammad Ali Jinnah's ‘two-nation’ theory and countered it with his concept of Muttahida Qaumiyat or Universal Citizenship.

ALSO READ: Triple Talaq Unconstitutional, Violates Muslim Women's Rights: Allahabad HC

JuH, at its annual convention in Ajmer last month, had also passed a resolution against any government interference in Muslim Personal Law while seeking to bring about changes within to stop any misuse of triple talaq.

Further clarifying his position on Personal Law, Madani drew an analogy with the offering of Namaz as per Islamic law. "If the law of a land prohibits me from offering Namaz, I will still do it in my home. If the law decides to punish me for doing that, then so be it,” said Madani, reiterating that triple talaq was neither considered a good practice nor encouraged in Islam.

Madani also hit out at Narendra Modi, alleging that the Prime Minister has remained silent on many issues concerning the minorities but chose to speak on this particular matter. "There are certain rights which were given to the minorities at the time of Independence. And those must be preserved," said Madani.

news18.com/news/india/muslims-will-respect-sc-order-but-triple-talaq-may-continue-madani-1321774.html

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India plans to make most of its share of water under Indus pact with Pakistan

Vishwa Mohan & Sanjay Dutta | TNN | Dec 11, 2016

NEW DELHI: India has set in motion its ambitious plan to utilise its share of water from western tributaries of the Indus, a decision driven by India-Pakistan geopolitics, which may see work begin on a major hydel project on the Chenab early next year. It is a long haul to implement PM Narendra Modi's September 27 decision to review water use within the ambit of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) with Pakistan, but the government has prioritised three hydel projects on Chenab and its tributary —Sawalkot (1,856 MW), Pakal Dul (1,000 MW) and Bursar (800 MW) —in a time-bound manner.

Building infrastructure on Indus, Chenab, Jhelum and their tributaries is a huge task but the short-listed projects are intended to express India's political will and preparedness to respond to Pakistan's use of terrorism against India with every option at its command including a new preparedness to use all possible leverage points.

"The Centre has constantly been in touch with Jammu & Kashmir government for all necessary ground work. Execution of Sawalkot project is expected to start early next year. The under-construction Pakal Dul project has already received an impetus after the government displayed an urgency to complete it on time," said an official.

The Sawalkot project envisages a 193-meter-high dam on Chenab for generating 1,856 MW. It will be constructed in two phases. Since 629 families consisting of 4,400 individuals are likely to be displaced, the state government has been working on a proper rehabilitation plan before actual work begins. The Bursar project will, however, take time before it gets clearances.

"Since NHPC had initially termed it an unviable project on certain grounds, there is need for proper study before the government goes ahead with it. The project may be tweaked to make it viable as it is now our priority area," said the official. As previous cost and viability calculations are revised in view of the political imperative, India could be looking to use as much of Indus water as it can. "Maximising use of water must be priority. It is good that the government has sincerely moved to execute pending projects to legitimately use its share of water within IWT. This is the most realistic option well within the framework of the treaty," said Uttam Sinha of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).

Towards this end, speeding up pending hydro-power projects is only one component of what India can do to utilise its share of water under the IWT. Under the 1960 treaty, India is permitted to construct storage capacities on the western rivers up to 3.6 million acre feet (MAF) for various purpose including domestic use.

India has, so far, not developed any storage facility or tapped its full quota of water for irrigation. Referring to the World Bank's recent decision to set up a Court of Arbitration (CoA) to settle disputes relating to Kishanganga and Ratle hydro projects on Pakistan's demand, Sinha said India should forcefully tell the Bank to factor in technological changes and new knowledge while looking at the implementation of ongoing projects.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-plans-to-make-most-of-its-share-of-water-under-Indus-pact-with-Pakistan/articleshow/55918158.cms

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India abstains from voting on UNGA resolution on Syria

PTI | Dec 10, 2016

UNITED NATIONS: India along with 35 other nations abstained from voting on a UN General Assembly resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Syria and urgent aid deliveries in the war-ravaged country.

The Canada-led resolution, which expressed "outrage" at the escalation of violence in Syria, particularly war-battered Aleppo, was adopted by a vote of 122 in favour, 13 against and 36 abstentions on Friday.

Indian diplomatic sources told PTI that India abstained from voting on the resolution in line with its traditional approach that it does not mix humanitarian issues with political issues.

The sources said the resolution had several elements mixed up -- the humanitarian elements mixed with a large amount of political elements, which are "contentious".

"The resolution had elements addressing the humanitarian situation mixed with political viewpoints of the sponsors which made for an uncomfortable cocktail. Consequently, we abstained in line with our approach that is for a delineation of humanitarian issues from the politics of a situation," the sources said.

The 193-member Assembly adopted the resolution demanding an immediate and complete end to all attacks on civilians as well as an end to all sieges in war-ravaged country.

The Assembly also expressed grave concern at the continued deterioration of the devastating humanitarian situation in the country and demanded "rapid, safe, sustained, unhindered and unconditional humanitarian access throughout the country for UN...and all humanitarian actors."

Action in the Assembly comes just days after the UN Security Council failed to adopt a similar resolution demanding a ceasefire in Aleppo, as two of its permanent members, China and Russia, cast their vetoes.

China, Russia, Iran and Syria voted against the General Assembly resolution, while Bangladesh, Iraq, Lebanon, Myanmar, Pakistan and Nepal abstained.

American Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said while the resolution is far from perfect, it is a vote to "stand up to tell Russia and (Syrian President Bashar) Assad to stop the carnage."

"This is a vote to defend the bedrock principles of how states should act, even in war. This is a vote to demand food, medicine, and safety urgently for a population in eastern Aleppo who have none," she said.

Power said Russia and the Assad regime have displaced at least 32,000 people in the last two weeks alone and their campaign of airstrikes have struck every single hospital in eastern Aleppo.

"The people left in eastern Aleppo do not know where to go. Some get shot in the street as they try to flee, others stay in their basements hoping Russia and Assad's aircraft refrain from dropping a bomb over their heads this time. Still others make it across the front line, only to have Assad's intelligence agencies forcibly disappear them," she said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-abstains-from-voting-on-UNGA-resolution-on-Syria/articleshow/55908257.cms

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Mideast

Hezbollah deputy: Takfiris after deviating Muslims from original Islam

December 11, 2016 - 10:20 AM

News Code : 797404Source : Taqrib News

Sheikh Naim Qassem, the Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah, has met with a delegation from Lebanon’s Reform and Unity Movement, headed by the president of the movement, Sheikh Maher Abdul-Razzaq.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Sheikh Naim Qassem, the Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah, has met with a delegation from Lebanon’s Reform and Unity Movement, headed by the president of the movement, Sheikh Maher Abdul-Razzaq.

Sheikh Qassem said, "the coming days will determine that the brave stances of the scholars in support of the Resistance Axis against the Takfiri terrorist phenomenon are completely correct and wise because the Takfiris have plotted against Muslims and seek to deviate them from original Islam and to make them forget the violation of Palestinian rights."

"Due to the actions of the Resistance Axis, Daesh is in the process of retreating from different areas and this is considered a victory for the Resistance Axis, strengthens Islamic unity and turns the focus to the principle enemy of Islam – the Zionist regime and its allies," he underlined.

Sheikh Qassem went on to add, "Hezbollah is steadfast alongside its coalition allies and added that there is no problem or action which can distance Hezbollah from it allies although the enemies seek to harm this coalition by spreading and enlarging lies."

The senior Hezbollah member noted, “We have faith in their options and with patience and perseverance, we will make local and regional achievements.”

en.abna24.com/service/middle-east-west-asia/archive/2016/12/11/797404/story.html

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Turkish army says hits Islamic State targets in Syria, killing 12 militants

Dec. 11, 2016

Turkish warplanes destroyed 27 Islamic State targets and killed 12 militants in the latest operations in northern Syria, the Turkish army said on Sunday.

The jets hit shelters, vehicles mounted with guns, ammunition depots and other targets strikes in the al-Bab, Bzagah and Kabr al Mukri regions of northern Syria, the army said in a statement.

The air strikes in northern Syria are part of Ankara's almost four-month-old "Euphrates Shield" operation with Turkish-backed rebels, which aims to push the jihadists and Kurdish militia fighters away from the Syrian border area.

(Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by David Dolan)

This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.

theglobeandmail.com/feeds/thomson-reuters/canada-top/turkish-army-says-hits-islamic-state-targets-in-syria-killing-12-militants/article33293672/

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Death toll from Istanbul twin bombings climbs to 38, minister says

Reuters | Updated: Dec 11, 2016

ANKARA: The death toll from twin bombings near an Ankara football stadium has risen to 38 and left 166 people injured, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Sunday.

A total of 30 police, seven civilians and an unidentified person have been killed in the blasts, Soylu said.

The two bombs exploded less than a minute apart on Saturday night, in a coordinated attack on police shortly after a soccer match between two of Turkey's top teams.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Death-toll-from-Istanbul-twin-bombings-climb-to-38-minister-says/articleshow/55923143.cms

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At least 272 killed in ISIL, PKK terror attacks in Turkey in 2016

December/11/2016

At least 272 people have been killed and thousands wounded in major bomb attacks across Turkey staged by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) over the course of 2016.

The following is a list of the most deadly bomb attacks since July 20 last year, when ISIL staged its first major attack on civilians in Turkey.

Dec. 10, 2016: At least 38 people, seven of them civilians and 30 police officers, were killed, while 166 others were wounded when twin bombings struck outside Beşiktaş football club’s stadium in Istanbul.

Oct. 9, 2016: Ten soldiers and eight civilians were killed in a PKK suicide bomb attack targeting a military road checkpoint in the Şemdinli district of the eastern province of Hakkari.

Aug. 20, 2016: Some 57 people, 34 of them children, were killed in a bomb attack linked to ISIL on a wedding in the southeastern province of Gaziantep near the Syrian border.

June 28, 2016: At least 47 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said all the evidence points to ISIL as the suspect.

June 7, 2016: At least seven police officers and four civilians were killed when a bomb ripped through a police vehicle near the historic center of Istanbul. The outlawed Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a group linked to the PKK, claimed the attack.

May 12, 2016: A total of 16 civilians were killed when a bomb-laden truck owned by the PKK was detonated in the Dürümlü village of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.

March 19, 2016: Three Israelis and one Iranian were killed and dozens were injured in a suicide bombing targeting Istanbul’s retail and culture center İstiklal Avenue. Reports said it was an ISIL attack.

March 13, 2016: At least 37 people were killed and dozens wounded in a suicide car bomb attack in the capital Ankara. The TAK claimed responsibility for the attack.

Feb. 17, 2016: At least 29 were killed in a car bombing targeting military shuttle buses at a spot close to the General Staff HQ in Ankara. This attack was also claimed by TAK.

Jan. 12, 2016: Eleven German tourists were killed and another 16 people were wounded in a suicide attack by a Syrian bomber in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district, the ancient tourist heart of the city. Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the bomber belonged to ISIL.       

Oct. 10, 2015: In the bloodiest single attack in Turkey’s history, at least 109 people were killed and more than 500 were wounded in twin suicide bombings targeting a peace rally in Ankara. The prime minister said ISIL was the suspect.

July 20, 2015: Thirty-four young activists were killed and about 100 were wounded in a suicide bombing in the southeastern town of Suruç near the border with Syria. Turkish officials blamed ISIL.

hurriyetdailynews.com/at-least-272-killed-in-isil-pkk-terror-attacks-in-turkey-in-2016.aspx?pageID=238&nID=107145&NewsCatID=509

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Turkey declares day of mourning after twin bombings in Istanbul

December/11/2016

Turkey declares day of mourning after twin bombings in Istanbul

Turkey has declared a day of national mourning after twin attacks in Istanbul killed at least 38 people, including 30 police officers, late on Dec. 10, Doğan News Agency has reported.

The Ankara Governor’s Office released an official written statement, notifying that a day of national mourning had been declared to commemorate the victims of the attack.

Following the announcement, flags were lowered to half-mast both across the country and at Turkey’s official representations abroad.    

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan postponed a visit to Kazakhstan due to the attack.

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev condemned the attack, stating that they were ready to help in all efforts to provide stability and security in Turkey.

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-declares-day-of-mourning-after-twin-bombings-in-istanbul.aspx?pageID=238&nID=107144&NewsCatID=509

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Massive Ground Force Drills Starts in Southeastern Iran

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian Ground Force conducted massive wargames codenamed 'Mohammad Rasoulallah (PBUH) 4' in the Southeastern parts of the country on Sunday morning.

"On the first day of the drills, rapid reaction units from other geographical regions of the country were transferred to the operational regions via air and ground in the shortest possible time," Spokesman of the drills General Seyed Kamal Payambari told reporters today.

He said that the drills are being held in the strategic Southeastern parts of the country in a range of over 220,000km with the participation of different units of Ground Force, logistic forces of the Air Force and Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base.

According to General Payambari, assessment of the Iranian forces' preparedness in the tactical fields and decreasing the time for their rapid reaction against threats as well as using new defense systems are among the goals pursued in the wargames.

Meantime, Army Airborne Commander Brigadier-General Houshang Yari announced on Sunday that dozens of different types of helicopters are flying over the wargames zone.

"Tens of different types of 206, 214, 209 (Cobra) and Chinook helicopters are present in the drills zone," General Yari told reporters today.

"During the drills, the command, track, control and close fire support missions as well as numerous heliborne operations will be carried out by the Airborne helicopters," he added.

General Yari said that the drills will also be a touchstone to assess the agility and power to overhaul and maintain helicopters.

A senior Iranian commander had earlier announced the Ground Forces' plans to hold several massive wargames.

Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Ground Force Brigadier General Kioumars Heidari also underlined the Iranian Armed Forces' preparedness to confront any aggression, and said the terrorist groups, including the ISIL, and their allies are unable to pose a threat to the Iranian borders and even the superpowers are not able to make military aggression against the country.

Different units of the Iranian Army's Ground Force staged massive military drills in the Eastern parts of the country in November 2015.

The Iranian Ground Forces' massive wargames were codenamed 'Mohammad Rasoulallah (PBUH) 3'.

Different infantry, artillery, electronic war, psychological war, drone and air force units of the Ground Force participated in the drills.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950921000407

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World mourns after twin bombing in Istanbul

December/11/2016

World leaders and other members of the international community expressed their condolences and condemnation following twin bombings in Istanbul that killed at least 38 people, including 30 police officers, late on Dec. 10, Doğan News Agency has reported.

The U.S. Embassy to Turkey condemned the attack, showing solidarity with the country against terror.

“We condemn tonight’s cowardly attack, and salute the courage of the Turkish people as we stand with them against terror,” the embassy tweeted.

The U.S. Consulate in Istanbul also stated that it was monitoring the attack, urging its citizens to avoid the area.

“Please avoid the area, monitor local press reporting, and let friends and family know you are OK,” the consulate said in a tweet.

U.S. National Security Council Spokesperson Ned Price issued a written statement after the attacks, stating that the U.S. strongly condemned the attack.

“We are in solidarity with our NATO ally Turkey against terrorists who are threatening Turkey, the U.S. and global stability and peace,” he stated.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denounced Saturday’s deadly blasts in Istanbul - and is calling on Turkey to publicly denounce any attacks against Israel.

Netanyahu said at his cabinet meeting on Dec. 11 that “Israel condemns any terror in Turkey, and Israel expects Turkey to condemn any act of terror in Israel. The battle against terror must be mutual.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin also expressed his condolences to Turkish counterpart Erdoğan and condemned the attack.

In a written statement, Putin lamented the “immoral and flagrant attack” and said he was sure those behind it would be held to account.

The attack also drew condemnation from EU officials.

“Following news from #Istanbul, in contact with authorities. All our solidarity to all citizens of #Turkey,” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini tweeted.

“Strongly condemn attack in #Istanbul! Violence has no place in a democratic society. @EUDelegationTur,” Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn tweeted.

The ambassador of the United Kingdom to Turkey, Richard Moore, also condemned the attack.

“I condemn again the terrorist attack last night. My condolences to families of those killed & wishes for a speedy recovery to injured. Those policemen are not faceless uniforms but sons, brothers, fathers. Nothing can ever justify this barbarity,” he stated via his official twitter account.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also condemned the attack.

“I condemn the horrific acts of terror in #Istanbul. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones and our Ally Turkey,” he tweeted.

In addition, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson condemned the attack on his Twitter account.

“Condemn attack in #Istanbul. My thoughts are with all those affected. UK committed to working with #Turkey to tackle terrorism,” Johnson said.

In addition, Hungarian Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Ministry spokesperson Tamas Menczer stated that the attack was also conducted against the European Union.

“The European Union’s security starts with stability in Turkey. So, these kinds of attack were also conducted against the European Union,” Menczer said.

hurriyetdailynews.com/world-mourns-after-twin-bombing-in-istanbul.aspx?pageID=238&nID=107146&NewsCatID=359

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Rally against terror to be held in Istanbul

December/11/2016

A rally against terror is set to be held today in Istanbul after deadly bomb attacks claimed at least 38 lives in the province’s Beşiktaş district late on Dec. 10.

Organized by Turkey Democracy Platform, the rally will start at 12 p.m.

“We need to learn how to live and let live. It doesn’t matter where terror comes from,” lawyer Kezban Hatemi told daily Hürriyet, adding that the rally would start from in front of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce.

“We shouldn’t let human lives be [destroyed],” she said.

The participants of the rally are expected to carry Turkish flags.

hurriyetdailynews.com/rally-against-terror-to-be-held-in-istanbul-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=107143&NewsCatID=338

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Feds raid businessmen linked to imam blamed for Turkey coup

By Melissa Klein December 11, 2016

Federal authorities raided a Brooklyn cafe linked to the Pennsylvania imam blamed by Turkey for plotting July’s failed coup attempt in that country.

The feds seized computers from Masal Cafe in Sheepshead Bay — which operates in a portion of the old Lundy’s Restaurant — in October, said a source familiar with the Brooklyn Turkish community and accounts in the Turkish press.

Cafe owner Selahattin Karakus told the Daily Sabah, an English-language newspaper in Turkey, that agents were at his Sheepshead Bay home and the cafe.

“They told me not to talk about this with anyone,” he is quoted as saying.

Karakus, 39, is a supporter of Fethullah Gulen, an imam who fled Turkey in 1999 and lives in self-imposed exile in the Poconos. He heads a moderate religious movement that operates schools and cultural centers around the world, including one in Sheepshead Bay.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed Gulen for orchestrating the coup attempt and has demanded that the US extradite him to Turkey. The Turkish government considers Gulen’s movement a terrorist organization.

Gulen has denied involvement in the uprising, which killed more than 250 people.

The coup began the night of July 15 as military factions tried to seize control of Istanbul and Ankara, bombing the parliament building and attacking the presidential palace. Erdogan was away on vacation and borrowed a cellphone to address his countrymen, pleading with them to resist the insurrection. The revolt was put down by the next morning.

Since the uprising, Erdogan has expanded a crackdown on the Gulenist movement, with more than 30,000 people arrested or detained and media outlets shuttered.

Shortly after the coup attempt, the Obama administration expressed its support for the Turkish democracy and said it would consider any evidence Erdogan presented to extradite Gulen.

Karakus is considered close enough to Gulen that the reclusive cleric is said to have suggested the name for his restaurant, which has become a meeting place for Gulen supporters, according to press reports. The word “masal” in Turkish means a tale or story.

He is among a number of Gulen adherents who have contributed to political campaigns across the country, according to a 2014 BuzzFeed article. Karakus denied at the time there was an orchestrated attempt at political influence.

He has donated $11,300 to congressional campaigns since 2012 including those of Democratic Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette Clarke in Brooklyn and Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Texas. Texas is home to the greatest number of Gulen-backed charter schools.

Karakus has also given $2,500 to Brooklyn Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, a Democrat from Sheepshead Bay. Cymbrowitz’s campaign has spent $130 at the Masal Cafe, records show.

“All I know about a federal raid is what I read in the newspaper. Mr. Karakus has a successful restaurant and is an active member of the Sheepshead Bay merchants’ association,” Cymbrowitz said.

The entity that operates the eatery, Boz Export and Import Inc., filed for bankruptcy protection in September, just days before the FBI raid. The company owes $450,803 in back rent, according to its bankruptcy filing.

Karakus refused to talk to The Post, and his lawyer declined to comment. The FBI would not comment.

nypost.com/2016/12/11/feds-raid-businessmen-linked-to-imam-blamed-for-turkey-coup/

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Arab World

Over 300 ISIL Terrorists Killed in Russian-Syrian Joint Operation in Ancient Palmyra

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Sunday that Syrian Army soldiers with aerial support of Russian fighter jets fended off and ISIL attack near Palmyra last night, killing over 300 terrorists.

"During the (Saturday) night, Syrian government forces, actively supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces, repelled all attacks by (ISIL) terrorists on (government positions in) Palmyra. The invading side actively used car bombs, armor and rocket artillery systems," the ministry's statement read.

According to Moscow, the Russian warplanes conducted 64 airstrikes on the militants' positions and reserves, while eleven battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, 31 cars with heavy machineguns were destroyed, and over 300 militants were killed.

Reports said earlier today that the army troops with the back up of the Russian and Syrian fighter jets managed to drive ISIL out of the neighborhoods they lost to the terrorists on Saturday, and imposed full control over the historical city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in Eastern Homs.

The army soldiers, backed up by the Russian and Syrian warplanes, pushed ISIL terrorists back from neighborhoods near Palmyra's entrance, inflicting major casualties on the militants.

ISIL carried out one more large-scale attack on government positions at the Eastern entrance of Palmyra on Saturday night. They took control of the strategic height of al-Tar in the Northern side of Palmyra and the village of al-Ameriyeh Northwest of the city. They further laid siege on the city.

As the ISIL terrorists were entering the Eastern districts of Palmyra, the army troops started to evacuate civilians from the city and transfer them to the T4 region and airport, but after arrival of reinforcements, the government forces carried out crushing attacks on the terrorists and retook some of the lost neighborhoods with the back of the Russian and Syrian aircraft.

The army men, fresh forces and the Syrian and Russian fighter jets inflicted major losses on the militants and took back the village of al-Ameriyeh and the Eastern neighborhoods of Palmyra.

The government forces further targeted ISIL's movements and gatherings in the wheat silos and al-Tar height, inflicting major losses on them and pushing them back from most of these two regions.

Massdar news reported that the Russian Special Forces with the back up of the Russian fighter jets and choppers played a crucial role in recapturing lost region in the Palmyra operation.

A field source said that the Syrian government forces are fortifying their position in the city to prevent any advance of the ISIL.

The sources added that the Takfiri terrorists try to maintain their position in Palmyra's outskirt, but the Russian and Syrian warplanes are targeting them continuously.

The source also said that an ISIL convoy of vehicles carrying a number of terrorists that had left al-Sukhnah region for Palmyra was destroyed in the air raids.

A military source also told RIA Novosti that the Syrian army managed to repel ISIL attack on Palmyra, regaining full control over the embattled city.

“Let me repeat that Palmyra is under the control of the Syrian army troops," the source said, adding that ISIL terrorists are carrying out intense attacks, but they have been repulsed.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950921000682

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4,000 ISIS fighters regroup, make new attempt to capture Palmyra, Syria – Reconciliation Center

Published time: 11 Dec, 2016 12:40

According to the Russian military, the terrorists have received considerable reinforcement, including heavy military hardware from the regions of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.

“IS has dispatched a considerable force to Palmyra from the area of Raqqa, where militants, backed by the US and the international coalition seized combat action against the terrorists this week,” the statement by the Russian military says.

The Reconciliation Center notes that the Syrian Army is engaged in fighting the jihadists.

“Despite heavy losses in manpower and [military] hardware, the terrorists seek to come as close as possible and gain a foothold in the city, as the Russian Air Force is not conducting airstrikes against residential areas in the city of Palmyra,” the statement reads.

Overnight Saturday, the Syrian Army, backed by Russian air strikes, managed to repel several attacks on Palmyra, killing up to 300 jihadists, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Also on Saturday, terrorists reportedly entered some of Palmyra’s districts forcing the Syrian troops to withdraw from some of their positions. According to AP, citing the activist-run Palmyra Coordination network, jihadists gained footholds in the northern and northwestern districts of Palmyra.

According to the Russian Center for Reconciliation, the terrorists are also receiving support from jihadists coming from Iraq.

“Earlier [Russian] intelligence spotted a transfer of up to 5,000 IS-militants to the areas of Raqqa and Deyr ez Zor from Mosul, Iraq,” the statement says.

In October, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that terrorists “could flee from Mosul and go to Syria.”

Palmyra was seized by IS in 2015, however in March this year Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air support, managed to liberate the city.

rt.com/news/369931-isis-regroups-attacks-palmyra/

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Syria: Gov't Forces Win Back More Neighborhoods in Aleppo City

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian Army troops and the Lebanese Hezbollah combatants pushed Jeish al-Fatah terrorists from more positions in Southeastern Aleppo and tightened their siege on the militant-held districts.

The Syrian government forces inflicted major losses on the militants in their attacks and drove Jeish al-Fatah terrorists out of a part of Bab al-Maqam neighborhood.

In the meantime, the army soldiers started hitting Jeish al-Fatah's positions in al-Asileh neighborhood from the direction of al-Safasefeh and Bab al-Nairab, winning control over the entire al-Asileh neighborhood after hours of fierce clashes.

The army troops also engaged in fierce clashes with terrorists in the neighborhood of Karam al-Da'ada and captured several housing complexes that inflicted a number of casualties on the terrorists.

The army also started offensive on terrorists' defense lines in the neighborhood of al-Ma'adi in Southeast Aleppo city and seized control of several building blocks.

Based on the reports, the army and popular forces are about to storm terrorist centers in the districts of al-Kelaseh and al-Ferdows.

The army men and Hezbollah fighters also carried out joint offensive against terrorists' positions in the neighborhoods of al-Mosharefeh and al-Jaloum towards Bostan al-Qasr (Bustan al-Kaser) and managed to advance against the militants.

Local media disclosed on Sunday that the army is getting ready to carry out a fresh round of massive attacks to take back the remaining militant-held districts in Southeastern Aleppo.

The Arabic language al-Watan daily quoted a field source as saying that the army men have temporarily slowed down their operations to ease the exit of remaining civilians from Aleppo's Southeastern neighborhoods, underlining that the army men will start fresh operation to liberate the entire neighborhoods in Eastern and Southeastern Aleppo city very soon.

Al-Watan added that the army opposes terrorists' demands for ceasefire and the only condition for the halt of the army's operation is pullout of terrorists from occupied neighborhoods.

The remaining districts in Southeastern Aleppo city that are still under militants' control are in a row and the fall of one of them by the army men will end in the fall of all other districts.

Based on the reports, civilians' presence is the only barrier to the capture of the entire Southeastern Aleppo by the government forces.  

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950921000990

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Blast hits near Christian cathedral in Cairo, 25 killed, 35 wounded – Egyptian state TV

Published time: 11 Dec, 2016

At least 25 people have been killed, and 35 others injured in an explosion near Cairo’s Coptic Christian Cathedral, AP reports citing Egyptian state TV. No one has claimed responsibility for the blast yet.

The bomb was reportedly placed in a female handbag in a seat in the back of the church, and the explosion hit the section where female worshipers mainly stood, which is why the majority of the victims are women, Egyptian reporter for The Washington Post, Heba Farouk Mahfouz, posted on Twitter.

“I found bodies, many of them women, lying on the pews. It was a horrible scene,” said cathedral worker Attiya Mahrous, as cited by AP.

The latest attack comes two days after two roadside bombs, one in Cairo and one to the north of the capital, left six police officers dead and six others injured.

The bombing is the latest attack against the Christian population in Egypt – 10 percent of the country's 90 million people.

In May, a mob of Muslims stripped naked and beat an elderly woman, and then paraded her through the streets of an Egyptian village, following rumors of a Christian man having an affair with a Muslim woman.

Over the past years, criminal gangs targeted well-off Christian families, kidnapping their children for ransom. Muslim men in Egypt are also known to have kidnapped young girls, forcefully converting them, and hiding them until they become adults.

rt.com/news/369924-cairo-coptic-blast-cathedral/

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IS suicide bomber kills 35 Yemen soldiers

AFP | Dec 10, 2016

ADEN: A suicide bomber killed 35 soldiers and wounded around 50 on Saturday at a military camp in Yemen's southern city of Aden, military and medical sources said.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

The bomber detonated his explosives belt as hundreds of troops gathered to receive their monthly pay at the barracks in Al-Sawlaban near the city's international airport, a military source said.

"A martyr from the Islamic State denotated his explosives belt in Al-Sawlaban military camp in Aden during a gathering of the Yemeni army," the IS-affiliated Amaq news outlet said.

Yemeni authorities have for months pressed a campaign against jihadists who remain active in the south and east of the war-torn country.

IS and its jihadist rival Al-Qaeda have taken advantage of a conflict between the government and the Huthi rebels, who control the capital Sanaa, to bolster their presence across much of the south.

The two groups have carried out a spate of attacks in Aden, Yemen's second city and headquarters of the internationally recognised government whose forces retook the port from the Huthis last year.

Al-Qaida has long been the dominant jihadist force in Yemen, located next to oil-flush Saudi Arabia and key shipping lanes, but experts say IS is seeking to supplant its extremist rival.

In August an IS militant rammed his explosives-laden car into an army recruiting centre in Aden, killing 71 people in the deadliest jihadist attack on the city in over a year.

On Monday, Yemeni authorities arrested eight suspected IS jihadists implicated in a spate of attacks targeting security personnel in the city this year.

A Saudi-led coalition has since March 2015 supported loyalist forces fighting the Huthis.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/IS-suicide-bomber-kills-35-Yemen-soldiers/articleshow/55915628.cms

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More than 10,000 flee rebel-held Aleppo since midnight: Monitor

AFP | Dec 11, 2016

BEIRUT: Fierce fighting and heavy bombardment saw more than 10,000 people flee rebel-held areas of the battleground Syrian city of Aleppo since midnight, a monitoring group said on Sunday.

"More than 10,000 people have fled remaining rebel-held southeastern districts of Aleppo city since midnight due to heavy fighting and bombardment," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/More-than-10000-flee-rebel-held-Aleppo-since-midnight-Monitor/articleshow/55922405.cms

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Yemeni Missiles Hit Hard Pro-Saudi Mercenaries in Al-Jawf, Shabwah Provinces

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army's missile and artillery units hit hard the Saudi military positions in al-Jawf and Shabwah provinces as the country's popular forces inflicted heavy losses on the terrorists in Ma'rib.

The pro-Saudi mercenaries' military positions were hit by two Sorkheh-3 missiles in Wadi Harab region in the Southernmost location of al-Aqaba.

In Shabwah province, a Yemeni army's missile hit the pro-Saudi mercenaries in al-Safra district of the city of Asilan.

The Yemeni army's artillery units also pounded the gathering centers and military hardware of the pro-Saudi mercenaries in Wadi Zahaba in Shabwah province, killing and wounding several militias.

Meantime, a senior military commander disclosed that heavy clashes are underway between Yemeni popular forces and the Saudi mercenaries in residential areas of Ma'rib province.

"The pro-Saudi mercenaries have taken shelter in mosques and schools," Senior Ansarullah commander Zayd Ebrahim Ahmad told FNA on Sunday.

He reiterated that the Yemeni popular forces destroyed 14 armored vehicles of the pro-Saudi forces in Ma'rib.

In a relevant development on Saturday, the Yemeni army and popular forces targeted and pounded several strategic Saudi military bases in the Southern part of the kingdom with a barrage of missile attacks, inflicting heavy losses on the Riyadh government troops.

The Yemeni forces hit the military bases in Assir province in Southern Saudi Arabia in retaliation for the Saudi airstrikes on the Yemeni civilians across the neighboring country.

Media sources announced that al-Malteh and al-Shabakeh military bases in Assir province came under the Yemeni missile attacks.

There are yet no reports on the exact number of the Saudi troops killed in the attack, the sources added.

Meantime, the Yemeni army and popular forces conducted military operation against the Saudi troops in the border city of Jizan and captured new positions.

In relevant developments earlier this week, the Yemeni army and popular forces continued their advances in Southern Saudi Arabia, inflicting losses on the military hardware of the kingdom's government troops.

The Saudi military bases, positions, hardware were hit hard in the Yemeni forces' attacks in Assir, Jizan and Najran provinces in retaliation for Saudi Arabia's continued airstrikes on the Yemeni civilian population.

"The Yemeni army destroyed an armored vehicle of the Saudi army in Sahveh military base in Assir province," the Arabic-language al-Mayadeen satellite TV quoted an unnamed military source as saying on Monday.

The source noted that seven military vehicles of the Saudi army came under Yemeni forces' mortar attacks in Sharqan region.

The Yemeni army and popular forces also destroyed the gathering center of Saudi soldiers in al-Meysal region of Assir province.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950921000980

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Commander Warns of Saudi-US Coalition's Plot to Control Yemen's Oil-Rich Regions

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior commander of Yemeni popular committees warned that the Saudi-US coalition has hatched plots to take control of the oil-rich regions in the Western coasts of Yemen.

"The US seeks to take control of the countries' wealth and capacities under the pretext of fighting against terrorism and protecting the international maritime activities," Abdullah Hassan al-Qora told FNA on Sunday.

He said that intelligence authorities have gained information saying that the Saudi-US coalition is transferring the US and Israel-made warfare equipment and their mercenaries from other Yemeni provinces to the Western parts of the war-ravaged country.

"The Saudi-US coalition is seeking to increase military attacks against the Western coasts of Yemen in addition to sending fresh forces to those areas to disintegrate the country and take control of its oil and gas resources," al-Qora said.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since March 2015 to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 12,000 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

Despite Riyadh's claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.

According to several reports, the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen has drove the impoverished country towards humanitarian disaster.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950921000505

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Mosul: Hashd Al-Shaabi Ends 5th Phase of Operation, Iraq's Joint Military Forces Capture 31 Districts

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iraqi volunteer forces (Hashd al-Shaabi) ended the fifth round of their military operation in the Western flank of the city of Mosul as the country's joint military forces have seized back 31 districts in the city.

"Hashd al-Shaabi has concluded its fifth phase of military operations in the Western flank of Mosul after liberating Tal Abta," the Iraqi volunteer forces' media center declared on Sunday.

On November 25, the Iraqi volunteer forces started the Fifth round of their military operation to capture the remaining areas in the Western flank of Mosul.

Meantime, the Nineveh Liberation Operation Command Center announced that Iraq's joint military forces have managed to win back 31 districts of Mosul and are purging the ISIL terrorists from the newly-liberated areas.

On Tuesday, the Iraqi volunteer forces captured the key region of Tal Abta near Mosul.

The Iraqi volunteer forces laid siege on the ISIL terrorists in Tal Abta last Sunday.

"Tal Abta region is now under Hashd al-Shaabi's full siege from four different directions, while they also took back several more villages in the surrounding areas," Hashd al-Shaabi Commander Mohammad al-Basri said.

He reiterated that recapturing Tal Abta which is regarded as one of the most important command centers of the ISIL near the Western flank of Mosul will pave the way for the Iraqi forces' further advances towards the centers of Tal Afar and Mosul cities.

The commander said that Tal Abta's capture can greatly help maintain security of a network of routes and supply lines in Nineveh province because it is linked to Tal Afar in the North and Al-Ba'aj in the West while it is also situated near the strategic Nineveh road.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950921001094

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Syrian Army Forwards Hundreds of Fresh Forces to Aleppo City

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian army troops sent hundreds of its forces to the Southern districts of Aleppo city to take part in large-scale anti-terrorism operation after evacuation of all civilians from militant-held neighborhoods of the city.

The army that slowed down its offensives on positions of Jeish al-Fatah terrorists to pave the ground for the easier evacuation of people trapped in militant-held neighborhoods, dispatched hundreds of its forces to the Southern part of the city to restart their attacks on terrorists' positions.

The army dispatched hundreds of its forces to the districts of Sheikh Saeed, al-Eza'ah and Seif al-Dowleh to continue its advances against Jeish al-Fatah in the districts of al-Zobaydiyeh and Jubb al-Jebli and lay siege on Bostan al-Qasr (Bustan al-Kaser) that is the main stronghold of Fatah al-Sham Front (previously known as the al-Nusra Front) from two directions.

The army's engineering unis and Russian specialists started to defuse bombs and landmines planted by the terrorists in the Eastern districts of Aleppo.

The army men seized several arms and ammunition depots of the Free Syrian Army, including a bomb-making and explosive gas cylinder workshop at a school in al-Tananir square in Old Aleppo quarter in their cleansing operation.

Local media disclosed earlier today that the Syrian army is getting ready to carry out a fresh round of massive attack to take back the remaining militant-held districts in Southeastern Aleppo.

The Arabic language al-Watan daily quoted a field source as saying that the army men have temporarily slowed down their operations to ease the exit of remaining civilians from Aleppo's Southeastern neighborhoods, underlining that the army men will start fresh operation to liberate the entire neighborhoods in Eastern and Southeastern Aleppo city very soon.

Al-Watan added that the army opposes terrorists' demands for ceasefire and the only condition for the halt of the army's operation is pullout of terrorists from occupied neighborhoods.

The remaining districts in Southeastern Aleppo city that are still under militants' control are in a row and the fall of one of them by the army men will end in the fall of all other districts.

Based on the reports, civilians' presence is the only barrier to the capture of the entire Southeastern Aleppo by the government forces.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950921000935

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Islamic State retakes Palmyra after Syria army withdrawal

 

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The Islamic State jihadist group recaptured Palmyra on Sunday after Syrian armed forces pulled out of the desert city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Despite the ongoing air raids, IS retook all of Palmyra after the Syrian army withdrew south of the city,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

The jihadists made a lightning-fast advance across the city after overrunning a northern neighborhood and capturing the famed citadel to Palmyra’s west.

The IS-linked Amaq news agency also reported that IS regained “full control” of the city on Sunday after taking the citadel, which overlooks Palmyra from a strategic hilltop.

IS launched an offensive last week near Palmyra, a renowned UNESCO World Heritage site.

It seized oil and gas fields before making a major push into the desert city on Saturday, sparking new worries for Palmyra’s remaining ancient treasures.

But a fierce Russian bombing campaign killed scores of IS fighters and forced others to withdraw at dawn on Sunday.

“Intense Russian raids since last night forced IS out of Palmyra, hours after the jihadists retook control of the city,” said the Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman.

“The army brought reinforcements into Palmyra last night, and the raids are continuing on jihadist positions around the city,” he told AFP.

In a statement issued in Moscow, the defense ministry said Russian warplanes conducted 64 air strikes against “positions, convoys and advancing reserves of militants” in Palmyra.

“Over the past night, Syrian government troops with active support of the Russian air force thwarted all terrorist attacks on Palmyra,” it said in a statement.

“The attacking militants actively used car bombs with suicide bombers, armored vehicles and rocket artillery,” it said, adding that the strikes killed more than 300 militants and destroyed 11 tanks and 31 vehicles.

Russia has carried out a bombing campaign in Syria in support of its ally President Bashar al-Assad since September 2015.

Hit-and-run

IS fighters have used hit-and-run tactics to cut their losses of personnel and equipment, withdrawing under intense bombardment but quickly relaunching an attack when skies are clear.

The jihadists have killed around 100 members of Syrian government forces since launching simultaneous attacks on several regime positions near Palmyra on Thursday, the Britain-based Observatory said.

They targeted areas including near the Mahr and Shaar oil and gas fields and seized government checkpoints, silos and the village of Jazal, northwest of Palmyra.

In May last year, the Sunni Muslim extremist group seized several towns in Homs province including Palmyra, where they caused extensive damage to many of its ancient sites.

They were ousted from Palmyra in March by Syrian regime forces backed by Russia.

That was hailed as a major victory, with Russian celebrities travelling there since March staging concerts and making public appearances.

Moscow has been under severe criticism for its airstrikes on Aleppo — which it says it stopped on October 18 — where the anti-Assad opposition is currently holed up in just a fraction of the territory it once controlled.

The city’s eastern districts are still being bombed by the Syrian regime which Washington has labelled “war crimes” and a UN General Assembly demanded an immediate ceasefire to stop the carnage.

timesofisrael.com/islamic-state-retakes-palmyra-after-syria-army-withdrawal/

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Syrian Army Readying to Launch Fresh Operation to Liberate Remaining Districts of Aleppo

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Local media disclosed on Sunday that the Syrian army is getting ready to carry out a fresh round of massive attack to take back the remaining militant-held districts in Southeastern Aleppo.

The Arabic language al-Watan daily quoted a field source as saying that the army men have temporarily slowed down their operations to ease the exit of remaining civilians from Aleppo's Southeastern neighborhoods, underlining that the army men will start fresh operation to liberate the entire neighborhoods in Eastern and Southeastern Aleppo city very soon.

Al-Watan added that the army opposes terrorists' demands for ceasefire and the only condition for the halt of the army's operation is pullout of terrorists from occupied neighborhoods.

The remaining districts in Southeastern Aleppo city that are still under militants' control are in a row and the fall of one of them by the army men will end in the fall of all other districts.

Based on the reports, civilians' presence is the only barrier to the capture of the entire Southeastern Aleppo by the government forces.

Manager of Aleppo International Airport Basem Mansour said earlier today that the airports' technical equipment has been relaunched and the airport will soon host flights.

Mansour said that as soon as the Syrian army soldiers took control over the entire regions that were strategically needed for strengthening security of the flights, reconstruction of Airport's nearby areas started.

"We are preparing the highway to the airport, while our construction machinery is cleaning the areas from debris left by the terrorists," he added.

Mansour said also that restoring security to the highway to Aleppo International Airport will significantly decrease the distance between the city and airport.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950921000791

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Syrian Army backed by Russian Air Force thwarts ISIS attack on Palmyra

Published time: 11 Dec, 2016

The Syrian Army backed by the Russian Air Force has repelled all Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) attempts to recapture the historic city of Palmyra, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday.

“Over the past night, with active Russian air support, Syrian government forces repulsed all attacks by the terrorists on Palmyra,” the ministry said in a statement.

Over 300 militants were killed in the offensive.

“The militants actively used cars filled with explosives, armored vehicles, and rocket artillery. Russian aircraft carried out 64 airstrikes on militant gatherings, positions, columns, and reserves as they advanced.”

The ministry added that 11 tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, and 31 cars equipped with heavy machine guns have been destroyed.

Recaptured from IS in March 2016, the unique UNESCO heritage site in central Syria has again become a battlefield.

Earlier on Saturday, there were reports that IS militants “re-entered Palmyra” for the first time since they were ousted by Syrian and Russian forces.

The activist-run Palmyra Coordination network told AP that jihadists allegedly entered Palmyra’s northern and northwestern neighborhoods.

On Thursday, the Syrian Army was said to have suspended active combat actions in Aleppo against Al-Nusra Front and other radical militants still controlling the area. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the evacuation of civilians was prioritized over the advance.

The Syrian government now controls 93 percent of Aleppo, the head of operations for Russia’s General Staff, Lieutenant General Sergey Rudskoy, also said on Friday.

Since the beginning of the operation to liberate Aleppo, more than 78,000 civilians have been evacuated from the eastern parts of the city, with support from the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria.

“About 1,324 militants have laid down their weapons and crossed into areas of the city to surrender to Syrian government troops,” the Center for Reconciliation said in a statement on Sunday. Bomb disposal specialists have demined a total area of 24 hectares (2.6 square feet), including 162 residential blocks and 11 kilometers of roads, it added.

rt.com/news/369920-syria-palmyra-isis-russian/

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Over 78,000 civilians have escaped Aleppo since start of Syrian forces’ operation – Russia

Published time: 11 Dec, 20160

The сenter is monitoring the evacuation of civilians from the blocked districts round-the-clock with the use of drones.

“Over the past night, 2,124 civilians, including 1,007 children, were evacuated from the rebel-held areas of Aleppo, with help from the Russian Center for Reconciliation. Some 291 militants laid down their weapons and crossed into the western part of the city to surrender to Syrian government troops,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Sunday.

“Currently, the Russian Center for Reconciliation, through humanitarian corridors near Karim El-Hun and Mahayar, has organized the evacuation of [another group of] about 8,000 civilians from the eastern parts of Aleppo to the safe areas of the city,” Konashenkov added. “All of them have been placed in special humanitarian centers where they are provided with hot food and medical help if required.”

“About 1,324 militants have laid down their weapons and crossed into areas of the city to surrender to Syrian government troops. In accordance with the Syrian president’s decision, 1,270 were amnestied,” the Russian Center for Reconciliation said in a statement on Sunday.

Bomb disposal specialists working in Aleppo have demined a total area of 24 hectares (2.6 square feet), including 162 residential blocks and 11 kilometers of roads, the statement added.

Russian crews have also helped to restore over 20 buildings – schools, hospitals, mosques, power substations, water pumping stations, and bakeries among them, according to the center.

In total, bomb disposal specialists have detected and destroyed about 1,340 explosive objects in the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo that have been liberated from rebel forces.

On Thursday, the Syrian Army was said to have suspended active combat actions in Aleppo against Al-Nusra Front and other radical militants still controlling the area. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the evacuation of civilians was prioritized over the advance.

“Active combat operations by the Syrian Army in eastern Aleppo have been suspended because another, largest operation of evacuation of civilians from East Aleppo is being carried out,” Lavrov said, adding that it's a “colossal operation.”

The Syrian government now controls 93 percent of Aleppo, the head of operations for Russia’s General Staff, Lieutenant General Sergey Rudskoy, also said on Friday.

East Aleppo civilians report torture, executions by ‘moderate opposition’ - Russian military

rt.com/news/369922-syria-aleppo-civilians-escape/

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‘If Russia & Saudi Arabia lead, rest will follow’: Saudi energy minister on historic oil deal

Published time: 11 Dec

The Saturday meeting of the members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) with 12 oil exporting countries outside the group “is significant because [it] has brought so many countries together for the first time,” Al-Falih said.

Al-Falih stressed that the total volume of oil produced by the countries that attended the meeting is close to 53 million barrels per day out of a total of roughly 90, so their share in the world’s oil production approaches 60 percent. He went on to say that the share of the countries that took part in the negotiations in Vienna on Saturday is even greater in the total volume of oil that is traded because “oil produced by the countries that were not represented at today’s meeting is mostly consumed within the countries that produce it.”

The minister welcomed the agreement on the oil production reduction and hailed Russia’s commitment to the deal.

“This meeting gave us understanding that we are all in the same boat, we all benefit [from being] together while [our attempts] to take advantage of each other” eventually hurt the market, he said, adding that this agreement showed that the OPEC and non-OPEC countries “were able to build trust.”

He then stressed that the parties to the agreement have to reinforce this mutual trust by ensuring the maximum compliance with the agreement and expressed his hope that Russia will take one of the leading roles in this process.

Al-Falih particularly said that he trusts the word of the Russian Economy Minister Aleksandr Novak and expressed confidence that Russia will comply with the terms of the deal.

“If Russia and Saudi Arabia lead, the rest will follow,” he stressed.

He then said that he “does not expect the US government to react to this in any way” to the Saturday deal as it has “not reacted in the past and let the market respond.”

At the same time, Al-Falih expects oil producers in the US to “respond to the higher prices and more stability” which will result in “healthy” development. Saudi Arabia welcomes the development of the oil industry in the US, as it “has been a center of innovation” and provided “new cost-efficient technologies”, so the Saudis want it to be “competitive and healthy.”

On Saturday, twelve non-OPEC countries, including Azerbaijan, Oman, Mexico, Sudan, South Sudan, Bahrain, Malaysia, Equatorial Guinea, Bolivia, Kazakhstan and Russia, agreed to cut oil production by 558,000 barrels per day (b/d) under the deal with the OPEC members.

OPEC members also confirmed their commitment to the plan to reduce the oil supply by 1.2 million b/d. This, together with the commitments made by non-OPEC states, would lead to the total reduction of oil production by about 1.7-1.8 million b/d, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said at the press conference.

The commitments taken by both OPEC and non-OPEC countries put an end to the ’pump-at-will’ policy the group has conducted since 2014, which sent oil prices down from $100 to less than $50 a barrel. Now, both OPEC and non-OPEC oil exporters are trying to push prices up.

rt.com/news/369912-saudi-arabia-russia-oil-deal/

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Africa

Muslim Brotherhood denies link to Egypt militant group

 

Egypt’s embattled Muslim Brotherhood movement has denied any relation with a militant group that has recently claimed a spate of deadly attacks in the country.

“The Brotherhood has no relation with any organization or individuals who shed blood,” group spokesman Talaat Fahmi told Anadolu Agency on Saturday.

“The Brotherhood does not have any armed wing in Egypt,” he stressed.

The denial came two days after six policemen were killed in a bomb attack in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Friday.

The bombing was claimed by the Hasm movement, which local media link to the Brotherhood, which the authorities blacklisted in 2013.

The militant group had previously claimed a car bomb attack that targeted the deputy attorney-general in September. The official had emerged unhurt from the bombing.

Fahmi blamed the Egyptian authorities for the ongoing violence in the country.

“There are no armed wings in the Muslim Brotherhood and we don’t have any relation to any organization, group or individuals who claim armed operations or [acts] of bloodshed,” he said.

Egypt has been roiled by turmoil since the military deposed Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president, in a 2013 coup.

Reporting by Hussein Qabanni; Writing by Mohamed Sabry Emam Muhammed;

aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/muslim-brotherhood-denies-link-to-egypt-militant-group/703784

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Suicide bombings in Nigeria: Toll rises to 57

AP | Dec 11, 2016

YOLA: An official says the toll from a double suicide bombing in a marketplace in northeast Nigeria has risen to 57 dead and 177 wounded.

Yusuf Muhammed, chairman of the Madagali local government, says 120 children are among those wounded when two women suicide bombers blew themselves up yesterday at opposite ends of the market in Madagali town.

Officials have blamed Boko Haram Islamic extremists. The explosions occurred on the edge of the group's Sambisa Forest stronghold, which Nigeria's military has been bombing ahead of ground assaults.

Since the military has dislodged the insurgents from towns and villages this year, they have been attacking soft targets.

Madagali was liberated last year after months in the hands of Boko Haram.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Suicide-bombings-in-Nigeria-Toll-rises-to-57/articleshow/55913289.cms

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Somalia suicide truck bombing kills more than 20

AFP | Dec 11, 2016

MOGADISHU: More than 20 people were killed Sunday in a suicide truck bombing in the Somali capital Mogadishu, police said, in a fresh strike claimed by the al-Qaida-linked Shabaab group.

"The tally we have made so far indicates that more than 20 people, most of them civilians, were killed in the blast," said Ibrahim Mohamed, a Somali police commander.

He said the toll might rise further as the injured and dead had been taken to different hospitals around the city. It was unclear how many people had been in the vicinity of the blast.

Abdikadir Abdirahman Adem, director of Mogadishu's AMIN ambulance service, said his staff had transported 48 injured people to hospital.

"The bomber targeted a civilian area. There were porters and other small-scale traders in the area when the blast occurred," said Mohamed.

Mogadishu residents described hearing a huge blast outside the city's busy seaport, seeing a plume of smoke that rose above the skyline.

A spokesman for the city adminstration, Abdifatah Omar Halane, said investigations were under way.

The Shabaab group claimed responsibility in a statement distributed on its Telegram messaging account.

It said the target was a military base close to the port and claimed to have killed "nearly 30". The group frequently exaggerates the number killed in its attacks.

The Shabaab is fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government of Somalia and regularly stages deadly attacks on government, military and civilian targets in the capital and elsewhere in the war-torn country.

Sunday's attack took place close to the entrance to city port and was large even by Mogadishu's standards.

"I have never witnessed such a blast which caused so much devastation," said local resident Abdukarim Osman.

The attack comes as Somalia is in the process of electing a new government with the much-delayed presidential vote due on December 28.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Somalia-suicide-truck-bombing-kills-more-than-20/articleshow/55924331.cms

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Nigerian church collapse: Toll rises to 160, 'could rise further'

AP | Updated: Dec 11, 2016

LAGOS (NIGERIA): Metal girders and the roof of a crowded church collapsed onto worshippers in southern Nigeria, killing at least 160 people with the toll likely to rise, a hospital director said Sunday.

Mortuaries in the city of Uyo are overflowing from Saturday's tragedy, medical director Etete Peters of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital told The Associated Press.

The Reigners Bible Church International was still under construction and workers had been rushing to finish it in time for Saturday's ceremony to ordain founder Akan Weeks as a bishop, congregants said.

Hundreds of people, including Akwa Ibom state Gov. Udom Emmanuel, were inside when metal girders crashed onto worshippers and the corrugated iron roof caved in, they said. Emmanuel and Weeks, who preaches that God will make his followers rich, escaped unhurt.

Screaming survivors were streaming out and there were cries from injured victims when computer program analyst Ukeme Eyibio rushed to the scene.

"There were trapped bodies, parts of bodies, blood all over the place and people's handbags and shoes scattered," Eyibio said in a telephone interview.

He had parked his car outside the complex to make a phone call, heard a deafening explosion he thought was a bomb only to see that the church had disappeared, he said

Eyibio and three others managed to drag 10 wounded people from an overflow area for of worshippers just outside the collapsed church but they did not enter the main structure because a construction worker among them warned of the danger of a further collapse. The worker called his boss at Julius Berger construction company, who sent a crane to help lift debris off bodies.

While they waited for the crane, Eyibio tried to help a man whose legs were trapped under a steel girder. "I rushed to my car, got out the tire jack and used that to get the beam off his legs," he said.

"We managed to get him out but we saw others dying all around us," Eyibio, 27, said. "I'm so traumatized I could not sleep last night for the horrors repeating themselves in my mind."

Many uncounted victims are in private mortuaries scattered across Uyo, youth leader Edikan Peters said. He said some people are secretly taking the bodies of relatives to their homes because mortuaries are overcrowded and some do not have refrigeration.

A crane is being used to lift debris believed to be hiding the bodies of more victims, said Peters.

Peter said he tallied 90 bodies before he was told to stop counting on Saturday night.

Journalists at the scene charge that church officials are trying to prevent them from documenting the tragedy, trying to seize cameras and forcing some to leave the area.

The governor's spokesman, Ekerete Udoh, said the state government will hold an inquiry to investigate if anyone compromised building standards. Buildings collapse often in Nigeria because of endemic corruption with contractors using sub-standard materials and bribing inspectors to ignore shoddy work or a lack of building permits.

In 2014, 116 people died when a multi-story guesthouse of the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed in Lagos, Nigeria's largest city. Most victims were visiting South African followers of the megachurch's influential founder T. B. Joshua.

Two structural engineers, Joshua and church trustees have been accused of criminal negligence and involuntary manslaughter after a coroner found the building collapsed from structural failures caused by design and detailing errors.

But Lagos state government efforts to bring them to court have been foiled by repeated legal challenges that have delayed a trial.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/160-dead-in-collapsed-Nigerian-church-Hospital-director/articleshow/55925075.cms

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Pakistan

14 MQM-London workers sent on judicial remand

 

Fourteen activists and supporters of Muttahida Qaumi Movement - London (MQM-L) have been remanded to judicial custody on Saturday by an anti-terrorism court (ATC).

Hyderabad's Fort police produced the accused workers before the ATC which sent them to judicial custody for 14 days. The activists were arrested on Friday while protesting in the Pakka Qila area.

The FIR, nominating 20 activists, was lodged against a total of 250 people, with the rest unidentified.

Earlier on Friday, around half a dozen activists of MQM - London were taken into custody after a heavy contingent of police resorted to teargas shelling and baton charge against them when they raised pro-Altaf slogans at Pakka Qila after Friday prayers.

Around 1,000 people gathered at the graves of their slain workers after entering the Qilla from its rear side.

Protesters also pelted police officials with stones. A case was also registered at Fort police station under sections 6/7 of ATA against the protesters.

dawn.com/news/1301649/14-mqm-london-workers-sent-on-judicial-remand

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Pakistan lost opportunities given by President Ghani: Hina Rabbani Khar

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Dec 10 2016

The former foreign affairs minister of Pakistan Hina Rabbani Khar has said Pakistan should change course in neighboring Afghanistan, a recommendation which comes amid deteriorating relations between Kabul and Islamabad, mainly due to war against terrorism.

In an interview with Gandhara/RFERL, Khar urged urged Islamabad to revive their administration’s foreign policy approach of maintaining good relations with neighboring countries.

In response to a question regarding Kabul’s stance against Pakistan, accusing it for harboring the Afghan militant groups, Khar said “That is the most disheartening thing to see. It causes me personal grief because we had literally poised Pakistan within the region. When I was foreign minister, we tried to concentrate on relations closer to home. And I, as well as my prime minister at that time, have categorically said that Kabul is the most important capital for Pakistan. We invested a great deal of energy and effort to make Kabul as the most important capital for us. As foreign minister of Pakistan, I visited Kabul three times in two years. In contrast, I visited Washington only once. It was because we thought Kabul is more important.”

Khar further added “What this government has been able to do is let the opportunity that came with President Ashraf Ghani go by. We lost that window of opportunity that opened when Ghani came into power. He gave Pakistan a pretty reasonable deal. He offered pretty much everything that Pakistan was asking for. I do not know the internal dynamics of the current government to be able to say what they should do to make amends, but I can say for sure that this government has not been able to sustain its relationship with Afghanistan, India, and Iran.”

The remarks by Khar came as President Ghani once again slammed Pakistan for its reluctance to take actions against the Afghan militant groups using its soil.

President Ghani said during his speech at the 6th Heart of Asia conference on Sunday that “Despite our intense engagement with Pakistan on bilateral and multilateral basis, the undeclared war – the name that I gave to the phenomenon in the winter 2014 – not only has not abated but also intensified during 2016, with special intensity right after the Brussels Conference.”

Citing a Taliban commander’s remarks about Pakistan, President Ghani said “As Mr. Kakazada, one of the key figures in the Taliban movement recently said, if they did not have sanctuary in Pakistan, they would not last a month.”

President Ghani insisted on the need for intense dialogue and engagement to resolve the issue, including fight against criminal economics, and an Asian and international regime, whatever acceptable, particularly, to Pakistan to verify cross-frontier activities and terrorist operations.

He also added “Thirdly, there is need for a fund to combat extremism. Pakistan has generously pledged 500 million dollars for reconstruction of Afghanistan. This fund, Mr. Aziz, could very well be used for containing extremism because without peace any amount of assistance will not meet the needs of our people. We have been balancing the opportunities and the threats. I am confident that focused, deliberate and systematic efforts can enable us to win a world and to make Afghanistan and Asia secure. Once again, thank you for your attention.”

khaama.com/pakistan-lost-opportunities-given-by-president-ghani-hina-rabbani-khar-02448

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Pakistani Shia officer martyred in terrorist attack in Abbottabad

December 11, 2016

Deobandi terrorists of banned takfiri outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (ASWJ) shot dead an executive engineer of Water and Power Development Authority in Abbottabad district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Saturday. Victim was a Shia Muslim.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Deobandi terrorists of banned takfiri outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (ASWJ) shot dead an executive engineer of Water and Power Development Authority in Abbottabad district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Saturday. Victim was a Shia Muslim.

Syed Yousuf Hussain Shah, a Shia Muslim originally belonging to Parachinar area of Kurrum Agency (FATA) was posted in Abbottabad. He was an executive engineer (XEN) of the WAPDA.

Terrorists belonging to proscribed ASWJ/LeJ opened fire upon Yousuf Shah leaving him dead and then fled the scene.

Shia parties and leaders have condemned the cowardice attack on peaceful and law abiding patriot Shia Pakistani citizen. They demanded public hanging to the involved terrorists.

en.abna24.com/service/centeral-asia-subcontinent/archive/2016/12/11/797421/story.html

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South Asia

Air and ground raids underway in Uruzgan, 18 Taliban militants killed

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Dec 11 2016

A major operation involving the air and ground forces of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) is underway in southern Uruzgan province with the local officials saying at least 18 militants were killed in the latest raids.

The officials further added that the operations were launched two days ago and are still being conducted in the restive parts of the province to clear from the militants presence.

Provincial police chief Wali Jan Sarhadi said the militants were killed during the operations conducted in the vicinity of Tarinkot city, the provincial capital of Uruzgan.

He said at least 25 militants were also wounded during the same operations.

There are no reports available regarding the casualties of the Afghan security forces and possible casualties of the civilians.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.

Uruzgan is among the relatively volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents are actively operating in a number of its districts.

The militants are often conducting insurgency activities by carrying roadside bombings, target killings, and coordinated attacks on the government compounds.

The Afghan forces have stepped up counter-terrorism operations against the group in this province after they launched a major attack to take control of the strategic Tarinkot city earlier in September.

Scores of additional forces including special forces of the Afghan national army were deployed to the area as the group managed to take the war in the outskirts of the city.

khaama.com/air-and-ground-raids-underway-in-uruzgan-18-taliban-militants-killed-02455

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Second largest Buddha’s reconstruction to kick off in Bamyan

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Dec 11 2016

The reconstruction of the second largest Buddha is expected to kick off in central Bamyan province as the local officials the decision to start the reconstruction work was taken during a 3-day meeting in Germany.

Provincial governor Mohammad Tahir Zahir said the experts attended the meeting in Munich city of Germany that led to adoption of a final decision for the reconstruction of the eastern Buddhas.

He said the reconstruction work of Shahmama Buddha, the second largest Buddha, will kick off as decided in the meeting besides other key decisions were taken.

The other decisions according Zahir included work for the preservation of the boundaries of the western Buddha, the Salsal Buddha, establishment of a park between the two Buddhas, rehabilitation and maintenance of Zahak city, Gholghola city, and other key historic sites.

Shahmama Buddha is one of the two largest Buddhas in Bamyan which was having a height of 35 meters and was destroyed by the Taliban militants.

The Buddhas of Bamyan were two 6th century monumental statues of standing buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, situated 230 km (143 miles) northwest of Kabul at an altitude of 2,500 meters (8,202 ft). Built in 507 A.D, the larger in 554 CE, the statues represented the classic blended style of Gandhara art.

khaama.com/second-largest-buddhas-reconstruction-to-kick-off-in-bamyan-02456

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Ghani calls on militant groups to join intra-Afghan talks for reconciliation

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Dec 11 2016

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani called on anti-government armed militant groups to join intra-Afghan talks for reconciliation and refrain from the destructive activities that harm the nation.

President Ghani was speaking during an event in Kabul to observe the Milad-un-Nabi, the birth of Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H).

He said the welfare of the country is in peace and not war, emphasizing that Prophet Mohammad wanted injustice and oppression to be eliminated from the society.

The remarks by President Ghani came as the Taliban group in Afghanistan, the main insurgent group in the country, offered new demands to participate in peace talks.

The group demanded recognition of its political office in Qatar, removal of group’s members from UN blacklist and direct peace talks with the US.

Earlier, reports emerged suggesting peace talks could likely kick off between the Afghan government and Taliban group.

The Afghan government opted military option against the group after it rejected to participate in direct peace talks earlier this year and after the group announced its annual spring offensive.

The government was forced to withdraw from the peace efforts after the group claimed responsibility behind a number of deadly attacks across the country, including a major attack on VIP protection unit in Kabul that left over 400 people dead or wounded.

khaama.com/ghani-calls-on-militant-groups-to-join-intra-afghan-talks-for-reconciliation-02454

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Southeast Asia

Indonesia, India must enhance anti-terror cooperation, says Indonesian President Joko Widodo

PTI | Updated: Dec 10, 2016

BOGOR (Indonesia): President Joko Widodo on Saturday said Indonesia and India must cooperate closely in the key areas defence, security and counter-terrorism as no country is immune to a terror attack and also sought stepping up of bilateral trade ties.

"I am very much looking forward to have discussions with Prime Minister Modi," Widodo told PTI in an interview ahead of his state visit to India, beginning Monday.

Widodo said he sees closer cooperation between Indonesia and India in defence, security and anti-terrorism fields.

"This is something that we are currently discussing...both our countries have large maritime regions, so cooperation in this sphere is welcome," said Widodo, the President of the country that has the world's largest Muslim population.

It is also appropriate that Indonesia and India work together to fight terrorism, he asserted, adding that, "no country is immune from a terrorist attack".

Indonesia will always cooperate with all countries to fight terrorism through the exchange of information as well as intelligence exchanges and cooperation, he said.

"I hope to increase ties in all sectors, especially economic. We have cultural and religious ties going back centuries. Ramayana and Mahabharata are very famous in Indonesia," Widodo said.

He said the discussions with Modi will cover economic, trade and investment collaboration.

Widodo said Indonesia is also willing to consider a bilateral trade pact with India.

"This is something that we are willing to consider. The important thing is that such trade deals must benefit both parties," he said ahead of the two-day trip, the first by the Indonesian President after former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's visit in 2011.

"Strong leadership is important at this time," said Widodo on Prime Minister Modi's tough decisions for accelerating the Indian economy and development.

Widodo said he had held several discussions with Modi on Indian companies' investment in Indonesia. He stressed that he would like to see Indian investment in the pharmaceutical sector as a priority and also in the infrastructure.

The President listed investment opportunities in his country, saying, "We have huge infrastructure needs, including toll roads, power plants, ports and airports. This is especially the case for the areas outside Java."

"We feel that investments in this (infrastructure) sector will prove just as lucrative," he said.

Responding to a question on Indian companies' participation in the Indonesia's coal mining sector, Widodo said Indonesia-India have a Joint Working Group on Coal to discuss the cooperation regarding coal.

He stated that Indonesia is actively reforming its regulations to make doing business easy for both foreign and local investors.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Indonesia-India-must-enhance-anti-terror-cooperation-says-Indonesian-President-Joko-Widodo/articleshow/55909850.cms

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At least 43,000 homeless after Aceh quake in Indonesia

AP | Updated: Dec 10, 2016

JAKARTA, Indonesia: At least 43,000 people have been displaced by the powerful earthquake that hit Indonesia's Aceh province, authorities said Saturday, as the government and aid agencies pooled efforts to meet the basic survival needs of shaken communities.

The estimate of the number of homeless people continues to grow while relief efforts fan out across the three districts near the epicenter of Wednesday's magnitude 6.5 quake, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said in a statement.

"The basic needs of refugees must be met during the evacuation," it said.

Humanitarian groups are now coordinating their efforts from a main command post in the worst affected district Pidie Jaya, the agency said.

At least 100 people were killed and hundreds injured in the quake, which also destroyed or damaged more than 11,000 buildings. The displaced are staying in temporary shelters and mosques or with relatives.

On Saturday, sniffer dogs were again used in the search for bodies and possible survivors in the devastated town of Meureudu, where a market filled with shop houses was largely flattened. Four other locations in Pidie Jaya are also the focus of search efforts.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo traveled Friday to worst-hit areas of the province and promised to rebuild communities.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/At-least-43000-homeless-after-Aceh-quake-in-Indonesia/articleshow/55906637.cms

 

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